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Air Ambulance Repatriation and Insurance


When faced with a medical emergency abroad, securing an air ambulance for repatriation can be a daunting and expensive endeavor. Insurance companies may refuse to cover these costs for several reasons. One common issue is the level of coverage; many standard travel insurance policies do not include the high cost of private air ambulances. Additionally, if a patient fails to disclose a pre-existing condition or prescription in their policy declaration, or if the injury occurred while they were under the influence of alcohol, the claim may be denied.

Insurance Company Arguments Against Air Ambulance Services

Travel insurers might also argue against repatriation by claiming that the patient is too ill to be moved safely, suggesting instead that treatment in the host country is more appropriate. They might also contend that there is no medical necessity for air ambulance repatriation, insisting that the care provided locally is sufficient. In such cases, insurers often offer to cover the costs of local treatment and sometimes even accommodation.

The Desire to Return Home

Despite the significant costs involved, many patients still prefer to be repatriated via air ambulance transport. This preference stems from various factors, including differing healthcare standards and hygiene practices across countries, which can cause stress and concern for the patient’s well-being. Language barriers and unfamiliar hospital policies can further diminish confidence in the care being received abroad.

Practical Issues for Extended Stays

Extended stays abroad due to medical issues also create practical challenges for the patient’s family. Arranging for necessities such as food, laundry, and communication can become costly. Additionally, family members may struggle to extend their stay or manage commitments back home, adding to the overall stress.

Solutions to Ensure Coverage

To mitigate these issues, there are two main options:

Comprehensive Travel Insurance: Opting for a travel insurance policy that explicitly covers air ambulance services for medical repatriation is the best choice. This type of insurance can provide peace of mind and financial protection in emergencies.

Air Ambulance Memberships: While fewer memberships cover international air ambulance transport, some do offer cross-border coverage. These memberships can be a valuable supplement to travel insurance, particularly for frequent travelers.

Ultimately, securing comprehensive travel insurance remains the most reliable way to ensure coverage for air ambulance repatriation.

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